Fund boosts university research

Manchester University and University College London (UCL) have won the first investments from a new scheme to develop commercial returns from early-stage scientific research.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) created the £2m Collaboration Fund to help university-based projects develop partnerships with private companies.

EPSRC has contracted fund management company Finance South East (FSE) to run the two-year pilot.

At Manchester University, Prof Wuqiang Yang, in collaboration with GEA Pharma Systems, has been awarded £100,000 to develop an online system for measuring the moisture in fluidised beds used in the manufacture of pharmaceutical products.

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is said to have expressed an interest in collaborating on the next stage of development with a view to becoming the first adopter of the technology.

The Collaboration Fund has also backed Dr Paul Beard at UCL, awarding £100,000 to develop a prototype ultrasound imaging tool for industry and medicine.

Having demonstrated scientific proof of concept, the UCL team and its partners at Precision Acoustics believe the technology is ready for commercialisation.

Sally Goodsell, chief executive officer at FSE, said: ‘The UK is full of scientific innovation and entrepreneurial talent but too often ambitious projects fall by the wayside due to insufficient funding at crucial points in their development.

‘The teams involved will face some challenging times in turning their inventions into commercial success, but their FSE fund manager will equip them to achieve this.’